Friday, April 11, 2014

7QT: Things I Want to Remember About These Days

Since I am currently riding my 6th newborn stage rodeo, I thought I should record what life is like right now because I know all too well that this is going to go by way too quickly and all seem like a blur. 


 Joining Jen and the gang because it's Friday, and I love numbered lists.

I want to remember...

1)

How big the toddler always looks when you bring home the next baby.  


SO BIG!  And what strikes me every.single.time we've done this homecoming routine, is the size of their bum.  You get used to changing a little newborn's diaper at the hospital (though I prefer to let the nurses do their job) and then you come home and have to wipe your toddler, and it's like bordering on inappropriate because he practically has a grown man's bottom.

2)

How many friends we have.  


Seriously, it's overwhelming to this introvert...but in a good way!  When I gave birth to Maggie, I did not get one single meal brought to me.  I didn't know many people at all back then, because I had dropped out of my Mom's group the year before when I had started working part-time.  We also went to a parish that did not have any other young families (really, none) and I only had one co-worker in my office at work.  Fast forward to Declan's arrival - I work in a great place with tons of wonderful coworkers, we are in an amazing parish with so many young families and friendly moms, and have really felt like we have established our roots here and made so many strong friendships.  The Meal Ministry at our parish has set us up with TEN meals over the course of a few weeks, and even more friends and family have offered us a meal as soon as we're ready.  


I have received so many texts and phone calls and emails over the past weeks of waiting for Declan's arrival that I can't even get back to everyone!  And I'm not complaining, I love having so many supportive and prayerful people around us, I can't tell you how much it does for a mother's soul to feel embraced in a giant bear hug.

3)

Newborns are boring.


They are cute and cuddly and smell delicious and so sweet...but they are boring.  All Declan does is root and nurse and poop and sleep, which makes him a perfect baby.  I just seem to forget how much they want to nurse at this stage, I am honestly nursing him every hour or more when he's awake, and then he'll sleep a big chunk of time, which leads me to my next point.

4)

During that big chunk of sleep, I know I should be sleeping.


But 2 things always happen:

Either A. As soon as I lay down I think about all the things that I could be doing, and I can't fall asleep.  I feel lazy and not accomplished and so I get up and start doing stuff.

Or B. I get so excited at the prospect of sleep that I can't wind down enough to actually sleep.  So I get up and start doing stuff.

Then I regret it when he wakes up for a marathon nursing session and I am so tired, but it just keeps happening!

5)

Hygiene is important.


I posted this picture on Instagram showing how pregnant I still look at one week postpartum.  So many of you commented on how amazing it was that I had showered.  But I have to tell you something I've learned the hard way through the years...keeping up on hygiene and getting dressed and putting on makeup/brushing your hair/whatever makes you feel pretty does a world of good for one's emotional state.  I know we may feel like crap, but when we at least look decent, we can trick ourselves into having a better day.  When you pass by a mirror, you can say "Hey, that woman has it all together.  HEY!  That woman is ME!"

6)

How the siblings react to new baby.


Maybe my kids are weird, but we've never had any of the jealousy issues that some parents talk about when bringing home a new baby.  I think it's because we had so many while they were so young that they don't know any better.  They are oblivious of our plan to take over the world, mwahahaha!

7)

The way Xander calls him "Baby Dec-a-lan" and sings him "I love you, a bushel and a peck" when he starts to fuss.

How Maggie was not disappointed at all that she got another brother, she was just so happy to have a new baby.


The way Eamon rushes home from school, washes his hands, and then asks to hold Declan.


How excited Andrew was that Declan had dark hair and dark skin and weighed the same as he did at birth.  Twinsies.

How John-Paul is practically brought to tears every time Declan cries in the car, and we can't soothe him.  So sensitive.

~

We are immensely enjoying our babymoon, and if I could ask a small favor, could you all please pray for Baby Rebecca and her family?  Thank you!



Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Birth of the Sixth Baby, Part Two

{Part One is here}

So around 9:30 on the morning of April 2nd, Phil and I set out for our walk.  As soon as we left my parent's driveway and headed towards the beach, my contractions started picking up.  It was a chilly morning, and the contractions were coming every 4 to 5 minutes but were not strong or painful enough to make me stop walking.  


By the time we had reached the water, I started getting a little nervous that we still had a 25 minute walk back home.  But we eventually made it back, and I hopped in the shower while Phil called the midwife to let her know we were going to head to the hospital.  She said she would meet us there in half an hour.  While in the shower, I realized I wasn't having contractions nearly as often, but decided to go to the hospital anyway because if I was due to be induced in two more days, maybe she would just do it today instead.

We got to the hospital and checked in while shocking everyone along the way with our response to "Is this your first baby?"  My midwife showed us to the room, and helped change me into the gorgeous hospital attire while asking me how labor was going.  I sheepishly told her that the contractions weren't regular anymore and I wasn't sure if this was the real deal or not.  She said she would check and see if I had made any progress since the last time she had checked me, the week prior, when I was merely one centimeter.  So she did, and I was a pathetic 2 cm. with a "thick cervix" whatever that means.  She told me that if it was my first baby, she would send me home, but because I had been down this road a time or two, I got to stay.  Phil snapped this picture of me at 11:40 am and as you can see, I was way too happy to be in real labor (I had told Phil in the car that I needed to act a little more serious so she would keep me):


The nurse monitored me for 20 minutes and I watched as my contractions were barely visible on the screen.  There were two sweet nursing students doing their internship who had never seen a real birth, and were so excited that I had come in on their last day.  They were only going to be there until 1:00 and I informed them that today was not going to be the day for them to see a baby born, since I was sure I wouldn't give birth until that night.  I had actually started thinking that they were going to send me home, and as soon as I could get up from the bed, I began pacing all around the room to pick up the contractions again.  It worked, and as long as I was walking around, I was getting them stronger and more regularly.   The cafeteria called up to the room asking what I wanted for lunch, and I told Phil to order what he would eat since food was not a high priority for me at the moment.  Then the sweet nurse suggested a bagel and cream cheese, and that suddenly sounded delicious!  She went and toasted it for me and I ate it in disbelief that I was eating during labor, something I had never done before.

After I had stuffed my face, the contractions started to slow me down where I had to lean over on the bed and sway to get through them.  My midwife came in as I was having a hard one, and suggested I get in the jacuzzi.  I love the jacuzzi in labor, but had wanted to wait until things were really bad to go in.  However, when she suggested it, it sounded like a better plan than this swaying and leaning over dance I had been doing.  I got in the tub and it was sooooooooo nice.  Oh my goodness, I love that thing.  Phil put some lavender oil on some gauze and had it beside my head.  It was so relaxing that I was practically sleeping in there.  

And then I realized that my contractions had stopped altogether.  I teared up while telling the midwife that I wasn't having contractions anymore, and she said "that's ok, honey, it's nice for you to have a little break!"  As soon as she said that, I felt a contraction.  Ahhh, I was in good hands.  I was in labor!  Things were going great!  I was relaxed and peaceful!  And then she asked if she could check me.  Sure!  So she did, and said "You are nice and thinned out, labor has really started now." I asked her how dilated I was, and she replied "Three".  THREE!?!?!?!?!  What the what?  She could see I was depressed at the news, and assured me that there was a chance I could be having the baby in an hour, things move fast once I get to three centimeters and active labor.  It was 1:00 pm.

I did not believe her at all.  I was convinced I would be meeting this baby at night, and thought I had a long way to go.  With each passing (and painful) contraction I began saying that I couldn't do it, I didn't want to do it, and I wanted some pain medicine.  She had agreed in the birth plan to give me Stadol if I needed it, and I was trying to convince her I needed it.  Phil would remind me of all of your prayer intentions before each contraction, and I tried my best to offer up the pain.  She checked me again, and I was at 5 cm after having only 3 contractions.  She again assure me I would be meeting my baby within an hour, and I again thought she was lying.  Phil tried to give me an ice chip, which I vehemently denied.  He tried a cool washcloth, which again made me agitated.  The poor guy couldn't do anything right except to let me squeeze the life out of his hand.

A few more (even more painful) contractions and now I was desperately trying to convince Phil and the midwife that I needed the drugs, that I did not want to have this baby without drugs and I might die.  Finally, she called to the nurse to get the medicine, and told me I had to get out of the tub and onto the bed in order for her to give me the medicine, because it was going to make me sleepy.  I told her I didn't want to get out, and that I didn't feel good.  She said I probably didn't feel good because I was overheating in the water, and I needed to get out.  Again she tried to steer me away from taking the medicine because she insisted I wouldn't want to be groggy when meeting my baby for the first time.  I told her I wanted to be sleepy.  Sleepy was better than crazy with pain, right?.

She helped me out of the tub, and I told her I needed to go to he bathroom.  She had me sit on the toilet as she crouched down to dry off my legs and feet.  If that's not a Jesus image for you, I don't know what is.  She's so good.  On the throne, I had another contraction and yelled for Phil who came over and held my head up with a nice cool washcloth.  Oh, that washcloth did feel good after all.  As soon as that one passed, I made it to the bed where she told me to lay on my left side, and another contraction started.  I began yelling out "Oh my back!  My back!  Phil, my back!" and he ran around to put some counter pressure on my lower back which felt like it was breaking.  Then another contraction came right on it's heels, and I yelled out to my midwife to "Help me, please!" because oh mylanta, that one was a doozy!  I told her I needed to lay on my back and she checked me and said "I know you don't want me to tell you when to push, but the baby is ready whenever you are."  I told her I never wanted to push, and she ignored me and put one of my feet on her shoulder while the nurse tried to get Phil to hold back my other leg.  But the midwife told the nurse to let Phil be near my head, that I needed him up by me, and so the nurse grabbed my other leg.  With the next contraction, I pushed...took a breath...pushed...took a breath while getting (lovingly) yelled at to stop pushing and wait for the next contraction...and I pushed again because there's no way to get me to stop pushing when a baby is coming out of my body!!!  And just like that, he was born!  

It was 1:41 pm and I had only been at the hospital for 2 hours!  He was born 41 minutes after I was at 3 cm.!  Whew!  Just like my last two labors before, it was fast and intense and painful and amazingly awesome.  I never ended up getting that pain medicine after all :)  They wiped him off and threw him on my chest for an hour of skin to skin contact.  He was gorgeous:

Rooting already, and hasn't stopped since.

After an hour of nursing and snuggling, they took Declan Kolbe to get weighed and measured.
8 lbs. 4 oz. and 20.25 in. long (tied for second place as my biggest baby).

Proud Dad of FIVE sons!
My parents picked up the kids from school and got them happy meals on the way to the hospital, without ever telling them that the baby was born!  The kids thought they were just coming to visit me there.  Talk about excitement!!










Grandchild # 21


Big brother!


Bookend boys.


We named him Declan Kolbe after two saints.  Declan means "man of prayer" and Kolbe is for St. Maximillian Kolbe, whom I have had a special devotion to since having the man who's life he saved stay at our house when I was a teenager.

Declan was so thoughtful and left presents for the siblings:






We went home from the hospital on Friday, April 4th...the day I was supposed to be induced.  Declan's bili levels were high enough that we had to keep bringing him back to the hospital to get them checked a couple times a day, but he never got to where he needed photo-therapy like 3 of our other kids had.  What a (yellow) trooper.


We are so in love with this little one, and feel abundantly blessed.  All of the kids are so happy to have him join this crazy family (yes, even Maggie is thrilled with another brother!) and we thank God everything turned out so well in the end.  


I want to thank all of you for your prayers and well wishes you have offered me over this whole pregnancy, but especially at the end.  At a time when I should have been growing more and more anxious, your prayers allowed me to feel a peace I didn't think I could ever experience at that stage.  I am so grateful.

The Birth of The Sixth Baby, Part 1

Wow, I can't believe he finally decided to show up!  Declan definitely did not follow Martin baby protocol, but I guess if you're going to be the 6th child, you have to make a grand entrance into this world.  


And this is his story...

Baby Martini, as he was affectionately known throughout this pregnancy, did not come as planned, which was earlier than his March 23rd due date.  All of his siblings came nice and early, and I had hoped and planned on a St. Patrick's Day or St. Joseph's Day baby.  I stupidly told everyone who would listen that this baby was coming in the middle of March ("because I always go early!") and was busily wrapping up any loose ends at work and home to be ready for that impending labor.  I had even joked to God (because He loves my sense of humor) that since this Lent would find me 9 months pregnant and having a natural childbirth (hopefully), that I didn't have to sacrifice anything else.  God decided to make my Lent a little more sacrificial by making me go wahahahahay past my due date (10 days past a due date = approximately 47 regular days) and I'm still trying to figure out His sense of humor.  Hmmph.


So there I was, large and completely not in charge at 10 months pregnant, just waiting on the contractions to start.  Because my last two labors had been very fast (2 hours and 3.5 hours) and in the middle on the night, we decided it would be best to start sleeping at my parent's house (close to the hospital) near my due date.  My parents wholeheartedly welcomed all 7 of us into their two guest bedrooms and we all played the waiting game together.  Every morning, Phil would get up and feed the kids and then drop them all off at school on his way to work, while I stayed at my parent's house and was babysat by my mom, who would not let me out of her sight.  My mom had six babies herself, including one precipitous birth (me) and one stubborn and large and late baby (her 6th).  She knew all too well that labors could go incredibly fast and as I went later and later past my due date, she became more convinced that I was going to have one contraction and then give birth in her house.  So all eyes were on me and my gigantic belly.  We did have fun while we could, going shopping, for walks, getting my nails done, going out to lunch, anything to pass the time and keep my mind off the fact that this baby was not coming until December, apparently.  We also said lots of prayers, Rosaries, Chaplets, watched EWTN and generally had a retreat atmosphere going.  I kept telling her that I didn't know I was going on retreat when I agreed to stay there, but that's what happens when you have parents who are 3rd Order Franciscans :)

And did I mention my Dad threw his back out in the middle of it all?
In between all the praying and eating and gallivanting, I had a few midwife appointments.  Let me pause to say how amazing my midwife is.  She's amazing.  OK, so she was very sympathetic to my plight that I was overdue with my 6th baby, living at my parent's house with the whole family, and willing to try anything to help labor start.  She stripped my membranes on two separate appointments with no results.  On Friday, March 28th, she made me an appointment for a non-stress test on Tuesday, April 1 and scheduled me for an induction on Friday, April 4th.  She also reminded me that babies come on their birthdays and giving up control is hard for Type A people like me.  She assured me the baby was not ten pounds like I was convinced he must be, and confirmed that with my perfect blood pressure and small weight gain, we had nothing to worry about.


 I felt better knowing there was an end in sight, but was still determined to start things naturally (they don't call it the Pit Drip for nothing).  I drank through three boxes of raspberry leaf tea, walked 2 to 3 miles a day, ate spicy foods, ate scallops (they put me in labor in the past), and finally started researching castor oil.  I emailed Michaela and Sarah to get their castor oil advice and techniques, went to the pharmacy on March 31, found the castor oil, held the precious elixir in my swollen pregnant hands, and ultimately decided to wait until after the Non Stress Test the next day to buy it. 

On April 1st (I couldn't even pretend to have given birth as an April Fools Joke...it just wasn't funny) I went to the Non Stress Test, and discovered that the fluttering and tightening sensations I had been feeling for weeks were actually contractions.  Uh yeah, 6th pregnancy, and I still didn't know what early contractions felt like. D'oh!  During the test, the contractions were 6 minutes apart, so I was hopeful that things were starting for real.  I went home, took a nap...and nothing.  At least nothing regular or strong.  I felt defeated.  My friend, Michelle, happened to text me that evening asking if I wanted to go to breakfast the next day, and after NOT making any appointments/commitments for the past 2 weeks, I finally thought, what the hay, and agreed to meet her for Mass and breakfast the next morning.

April 1st and I'm the fool for believing labor was starting.

I went to bed that night and on my 3rd bathroom trip, around 4 am, I noticed contractions had started again.  This time the contractions felt a little stronger and lower than the ones I had been having earlier in the day.  I stared at my sleeping husband and after a few more decided to wake him up so he could time them just in case it was actually for rizzo this time.  We timed them for the next 2 hours, and they were about 8 minutes apart...then 12...then 13.  Defeated again, I decided to go back to bed and Phil got dressed for work.  When he came to kiss me goodbye, and I saw him all dressed up in his shirt and tie, my gut told me that he shouldn't go to work.  Then my head told my gut to shut it because I couldn't ask him to stay home when contractions were nonexistent when I was laying down.  But then my gut started yelling that these contractions were different and Phil should NOT GO TO WORK.  My heart got involved and told my eyes to fill with tears as I tried to explain to Phil that I really needed him to stay home even though this baby wasn't ever going to be born EVER and it was the one day that I had made breakfast plans and how could I cancel them if I thought I shouldn't go but wasn't even in real labor?!  My smart man (knowing that insanity was a signpost of impending labor) decided to call in to work and say that contractions had started and we thought today *might* be the day, and texted Michelle to cancel our morning plans.  Then he changed into jeans and a sweatshirt and left to bring the kids to school, and Xander to the nanny's house.  I went to sleep and woke up before he had returned feeling really bad that contractions had stopped completely.  I got up to eat breakfast and much to my surprise, felt the contractions pick up again!  Phil got home and we hatched a plan to go on a long walk to get things more regular.  It was April 2nd after all, which was the anniversary of the day Pope John Paul II entered eternal life, and he would want to help us bring a new life into this world, right?

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